MasterCard has announced the findings of a special report that describes factors shaping purchasing decisions among the mass-affluent demographic of consumers -- those households earning over $100,000 in annual income. The report is based on the Yankelovich MONITOR® 2004, an annual study of consumers.
Among the report's key findings was that the self-confident and demanding mindset of the mass-affluent consumer means that customization is becoming a necessity, not simply an added convenience, for companies across a range of industries. At the same time, financial services companies are creating new product offerings designed to meet the needs of this market by offering more choice and convenience.
According to the report, mass-affluent consumers:
- Want to fashion their lives their way and celebrate their own style. For example, 42 percent want to be seen by others as people who are willing to defy convention, up from just 19 percent in 2001. More than three-quarters of mass-affluent consumers want to be perceived as being in control of their life, an 11 point increase since 2001.
- Are demanding heightened levels of customer service. According to the findings, 85 percent of mass-affluent consumers say they will speak up when experiencing bad service. Nearly three-quarters will walk out of a store if mistreated, even if the store has exactly what they are looking for. More than half have refused to buy a particular product or service over the past year as a form of activism.
- Are embracing the Internet as a means of getting things accomplished. The data indicates that 77 percent of mass-affluent consumers believe that the Internet has enabled them to do more without the help of others. Among those online, the most popular activities are getting travel information (67 percent, up from 51 percent in 2000), shopping for products or services (63 percent, up from 44 percent), and purchasing airline tickets (52 percent, up from 37 percent).
- Place more importance on experiences and relationships than material possessions. For example, 84 percent think it's important to be seen as someone whose integrity is beyond question, up from 74 percent last year. The top three signs of life success and achievement cited by mass-affluent consumers were: being satisfied with your life (83 percent), being in control of your life (80 percent), and having a good marriage (77 percent).
- Do not consider themselves wealthy. Only 12 percent of mass-affluent consumers describe themselves as having "a lot of money."
"This analysis illustrates that mass-affluent consumers have become increasingly reluctant to compromise and settle on products that do not resonate with them personally," said Ann Clurman, senior partner at Yankelovich. "As a result, we are witnessing the demise of the one-size-fits-all model and the climb of customization. Smart companies realize it's more important than ever to offer innovative products and solutions that are tailored to meet individual wants and needs."
MasterCard has incorporated the research findings into its own product strategy for the mass-affluent market, reflected in the recent launch of the enhanced World MasterCard. The card offers a rewards program that is unique in the payments industry in that it allows cardholders to self-select their rewards based on four distinct categories - Personal, Family, Finances and Community. The product is designed to appeal to the core values of mass-affluent consumers. MasterCard also recently launched a new version of its Priceless® advertising campaign to convey the flexibility and customization options it offers consumers.
"As the priorities of consumers continue to evolve, we are committed to offering a mix of products and services that allows cardholders to decide what matters most to them," said Nicole Risafi, vice president, MasterCard International. "Our enhanced World MasterCard reflects our ability to meet the needs of the mass-affluent market by offering a level of customization and choice that is unmatched in the payments industry."
"MasterCard's already strong brand presence among affluent consumers will be further enhanced as we develop a deeper understanding of who they are and what they're looking for," said Amy Fuller, group head, Americas Brand Development, MasterCard International. "The power of our brand and our customer centric approach will further advance the MasterCard industry leadership position within this market."